Matt Towery

It was the dumbest thing the Democratic members of the U.S. House could have done. And it is already jeopardizing the chances of President Obama to reverse the fortunes of himself and his party. "It" was making Nancy Pelosi the minority leader of the House, and thus the head of what is now an even more liberal delegation of lawmakers.

I find it interesting when a veteran news/talk celebrity like Barbara Walters asks President Obama to respond to Sarah Palin's comment that if she runs for president in 2012, she believes she could win. Obama at first gracefully dodges the question, only to have Walters laugh and condescending suggest that surely he believes he could defeat Palin. So we're to assume automatically that Palin is a lightweight, but that someone like Pelosi is a political pro and an asset to her party.

If Pelosi is such a pro, she should realize that her hard stand of opposing an extension of tax cuts for so-called "wealthy Americans" as part of an extension of the George W. Bush tax cuts is placing what few moderates she has from her own party in Congress in political hot water. Moreover, this puts her at odds with the president. That's not to say he wants to extend these cuts for those who earn over $250,000 as a family. Rather, it's to say that, at least for the short term, he desperately needs to do so.

The problem is that Pelosi, who at one point was known vaguely by the public, is now becoming the left-wing spokesperson and a potential obstructionist to compromise. This will only hurt her own party and the president as she rises in name identification. It was Pelosi who was unapologetic for the beating her colleagues took in the elections. Now even major national newspapers are reporting that she is becoming a huge thorn in the side of a president who desperately needs to appear more moderate in order to have a prayer of re-election in 2012.

I have drawn the comparison between the Obama administration and that of Jimmy Carter's more than once. Now history truly is repeating itself. In the 1970s, Thomas "Tip" O'Neill was a powerful Democratic speaker of the House. At first, he and Carter worked together. But when Carter began challenging pet projects of O'Neill's, and also failed to push for universal heath care, O'Neill turned into the Nancy Pelosi of his era.

Many forget that while the Democrats held onto the House in 1980, O'Neill was used as a major weapon by the GOP in that year's presidential election. They argued that the Democrats were too liberal and that Carter had to go. And so Jimmy Carter went. Doubtless he was painfully aware of the large target O'Neill had placed on his back.

Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a pollster, attorney, businessman and former elected official. He served as campaign strategist for Congressional, Senate, and gubernatorial campaigns. His latest book is Newsvesting: Use News and Opinion to Grow Your Personal Wealth. Follow him on Twitter @MattTowery